The Watermelon Story
I will tell you now the story of how Watermelon started.
It actually goes back a few years. Esteban and me (we have the same name lol) met in college. He says he didn't like me in the beginning, and that's fine, I usually don't give the best first impression. I was starting Systems Engineering and he was studying Business. We started hanging out because he was a nerd and liked coding. I like people so we kind of clicked. We started hanging out a lot when I became the president of the ACM (Association for Computer Machinery), the student chapter for Systems Engineering. I started organizing events for people to join. One of the most popular events was with the Google student Advocate where we played card games and got a lot of people to come. The Google name was powerful. I noticed that the chapter didn't have any money so we couldn't have shirts or stickers or anything actually, so I decided I would collect it. I came up with this idea of Alcodehol, a party where we would test computer skills of people like in the movie The Social Network. We drank a lot and coded our way. We couldn't actually solve any problems but we became friends. Esteban helped me organize a few things about it we started hanging out a lot after that and became real friends.
We hung out a lot, mostly on weekends. As we studied different things we rarely talked about classes so we had to find common themes. We both started talking about companies and businesses and of course tech companies made the news more often. That's how we both became fixated on startups and unicorns. It all started with Zuckerberg's Facebook but we went deep when Palantir came around. We got versed in the round names and stock types and discussed good or bad moves and suddenly, Rappi appeared in our lives.
I was working for Kiwi Campus (they now make automated delivery robots) as the manager for our University. I was in charge of the pilot for hyper-local deliveries. We were crushing it. I got an ad about "looking for the best blah blah blah" and I signed up. It was a competition and I loved competition.
I signed, told Esteban and two other friends to be my team and got to work. The goal was to have the most new signups on Rappi with first orders. One week went by and we were in second place. I called the team and told them I had an idea. We got together, called all our friends, and sent them a snack for free, in exchange for their email and home address. Only Esteban showed up and we played ping pong and billiards while waiting for deliveries.
The team that got called up first told an amazing story of how they played the game. They had teachers giving extra points for signups, shirts printed with their invite code, and had gone to dog shows to tell people about it. We did things that don't scale and won over them. Honestly, we didn't expect it.
Winning got us some money and and interview with the CEO. Esteban did not show up to the interview, but the other three did. One of them went to work on the delivery people side, the other as a PM in the tech team and I got singled out by CEO to work with him. It was an amazing job. I got to see the inside of a company that was only 50 people all the way to declaring itself a Unicorn from the best seat in the house. I learned tons.
I got burnt out and had to quit, and roughly at the same time, Esteban started working as a developer for an American company and then for a local one. We both got busy and we didn't see each other as much. We still talked a lot, but we didn't hang out as much.
I kept on playing entrepreneur and eventually made enough money to start investing. Esteban and a mutual friend had founded a CyberSec company called SafeTalpa. I clearly remember they were about to name something very hard to pronounce and I convinced them otherwise. I invested in them a small amount I had lying around, and they managed to get the founder of the Software Engineering Daily podcast to do so too. They got into an accelerator and, sadly, found out the problems of B2B startups. They were not able to get traction and had to close down.
A couple of years went by, we worked in different places, finished college, partied, and eventually I found myself broke. I needed a formal job and Esteban was my lifeline.
He recommended me for a senior react developer job which I got and off we went. It was a good job but the pandemic raged hard and we, as extroverts, got bored. We started creating channels in the corporate Slack and adding people. We had channels for stuff like:
- Song of the day
- Board games
- Soccer (per city)
- Drinking (this one was quickly censored but moved to WhatsApp)
It was a great way to connect to people, but it had a lot of activation energy, and that's how Watermelon was born.
We joked around drinking, "we should have a bot that creates channels and adds people", and we just looked at each other with the sudden realization. That was the productization of what we did. We got working. On afternoons and weekends, we got a product. It was a bot that sent a weekly question such as "what is your favorite pokémon?", "Which hobby do you prefer?" and other light-hearted questions, added people into a Slack group and sent a related ice breaker.
It was fun, our coworkers loved it and big brass got wind. We were in to sell it.
We got talking with the HR department and complied with their requests. They asked for things such as not using
@channel and keeping the questions not spicy. We started talking money. We tried selling to other HR managers and found a wall. The reality is that very few departments have a real budget for employee happiness or that it requires a very long approval process.
When the COVID retrictions got relaxed and we could meet people again, we lost product-founder fit, we got bored of it and stopped improving it. We sat down and got real about it, we wanted to work together but not on that.
A suggestion came up to build a dev tool. And we both agreed.
We called all our dev friends and asked "what is the most annoying part of your work?" and found out that most people would blurt out "Nobody documents their code." Of course, our next question was "how do you usually document your code?" to which they would answer "I don't, I just write it and hope it's clear enough." We knew we had a problem.
We started exploring how to do it, drew on some napkins, and jumped on a plane to the Miami Hack Week. It was a crypto event but we needed the hackathon push to code something up. A couple of friends picked us up at the airport and hosted us because the huge mansion where we grinded was off-limits for the night. I actually took a couple of calls from the pool.
The big break came almost at the end of the week. We had a hacky product that sort of pulled the commit history and displayed it on VSCode and a decent speech. We got a call from an Accelerator called Platanus. We managed to explain it correctly, show a demo and get in.
Platanus is the best accelerator in LatAm, currently. They wire 100k and let you work with weekly meetings minimized, just like the best in the world. Honestly, it's so weird that a lot of the others here in latam give you so little money and force you to attend classes like if you were a schoolkid.
We had a little money in the bank and shiny new computers to work on. We jumped into the abyss and quit our jobs.
The first month was weird. We decided to not make a faster horse but something different. We came to the realization that people don't want better documentation, they want ideas to be transmitted instantly.
Now, we only needed to figure out how people communicate when facing a new codebase, be it because of a new hire, a reorg or a priority change. The challenge is getting ideas out of people's head, as developers spend about 80% of their time reading code and 20% writing it.
Honestly it came from memes. We figured out that people are writing everywhere, but it is never structured:
- styles and possible errors on a commit
- commenting on a ticket that's blocked
- a message from a newbie
If only we could stitch all of this together...
And that's where we are now!
The current Watermelon version has:
- A full Commit history
- The Pull Requests from GitHub that include those commits
- The issues from Jira that are Relevant
- The Slack messages that might mention it
And best of all, you can add to the conversation right from your IDE.